Written and posted by www.equatorialguineaonline.com – April 21st, 2012
Equatorial Guinea is composed of two main parts: the Continental Mainland (which main city is Bata, the economic capital of the Country) and a set of islands of which the most important is the Island of Bioko(30 km from the coast of Cameroon) which main city is Malabo, the Political Capital of the Country. Annobon is the second main Island and is 650 km from the Island of Bioko. There are also other five small islands: Corisco, Elobey Grande, Elobey Chico, Cotero and Mbanie.
Equatorial Guinea covers more than 28,000.00 km2; of witch 26,000.00 km2 for the Continental Mainland, and 2,000.00 km2 for the Island of Bioko. With 300000 inhabitants 30 years ago, Equatorial Guinea has about 1.2 million inhabitants today, with 45% living in the cities. With the economic boom and political stability, many Equatoguinean refugees (in Europe and neighboring countries who ran away from persecution by the former regime) have returned home. The accelerated economic development is also attracting more and more foreigners. The remarkable efforts in developing excellent infrastructure have succeeded in linking many cities and villages.
With Spanish and French as official languages, English is widely spoken and is rapidly becoming the third main language used in the country. Enormous progress has been made in the democratization process, respect of Human Rights, including Women and Children Rights, the Rights of Association, Free speech, the rights of the Press. Already in 1997, the Constitution instituted the Parliamentary Commission of the Human Rights; aNationalCenterfor the Promotion and defense of Human Rights was created in 2000. The per capita income of more than US $ 21,000.00 is one of the highest in the Continent, and is allowing the Equatoguineans, to benefit from the unique economic performance undertaken since 20 years by the President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Africa is the continent of the future; theU.S.has the responsibility to effectively participate in its development; not as a “Good Samaritan”, but as a respected and equal partner. The development of Africa cannot be left only to Europe, China and Russia.
Already, at the World Food Day (WFD) celebration last year, President Obiang declared that among the Millennium Development Goals, achieving food security remains one of the major and daunting challenges facing the African continent. The agricultural sector provides 70 percent of employment and activities associated with this sector contribute 25 to 40 percent of the GDP of African countries on average. According to President Obiang, poor governance and corruption not only have a short to medium-term impacts on people’s lives, but also impact agricultural productivity and countries’ development. The dilemma is three-pronged: a) Food security or food sovereignty, b) Local agricultural production or food import, c) Regional or global food market. These three facets of the agriculture dilemma shed light on the contradiction that has struck the agriculture sectors’ policy inAfrica. It is based on that pertinent analysis and vision, that the Minister of State in charge of agriculture and forests, who is considered the father of the “Green Revolution” in Equatorial Guinea, in 2011 launched the unique and daunting program of making Equatorial Guinea food self-sufficient in four to five years within the framework of the “Economic and Social Development Program of Equatorial Guinea Horizon 2020” approved by the second Economic and Social Development Conference of November 2008. Judged by the results achieved so far, the country is on the verge of attaining its objective.
“Governance, transparency, democracy and human rights are part of the natural evolution of any country. Every country should follow its genuine political and social idiosyncrasy. The above elements which are universal cannot be imported or over imposed from the outside; they have to be promoted constantly but vigorously from within. This is what we have done inEquatorial Guineaand witch we are constantly improving via political reform” stated President Obiang Nguema. “These political reforms, which have attained another higher point with the recent adoption of the Constitutional Reform, are dictated by the genuine needs to adapt our country’s structures to the universal principles of governance, human rights, democracy, people’s freedoms and other concepts required by the globalization” the President further stated.
Furthermore, President Obiang is of the view that Equatorial Guinea needs the assistance of scientific and technical know-how and the experiences of friendly countries in facing the challenges of its development program called, “Horizonte 2020.” “Money is not all” the President stated. “Equatorial Guinean determination is there; what is needed is the friendly but not Samaritan aid of countries acting as true partners through their knowledge and experience, to helpEquatorial Guineaachieve its worthwhile objectives of economic and social development for the well-being of its population.”
An influentialUSCongressman we have contacted, in analyzing the ongoing situation ofEquatorial Guinea, puts it as follows: “In the international political relations, there is not such a thing as “Zero Sum Game”. We have to defend our friends; not only on the basis of friendship, but taking into account our interests. Our relation withSaudi Arabiais grounded on that concept. Experts tell us that 10-15% of Exxon-Mobil net annual revenues come from its activities in Equatorial Guinea; those activities generate 25,000 to 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in the US. Other US Companies are very active in contributing to the sound and sustainable economic and social development of Equatorial Guinea, adding to the number of jobs creation in the US.
US companies can and should do more, and the authorities are constantly seeking US know-how and experience to help move their economic and social development forward for the interest of Equatoguinean people. The country, according to our analysis, has made tremendous efforts in instituting genuine democratic process, respecting Human Rights, the Freedom of the Press and of Speech. There are few countries in Africa which have reached the level of democratic process of Equatorial Guinea.
Whoever wants to question the state of democracy, Human Rights, the Rights of Women and Children, the Rights of Press and Freedom of Speech, in Equatorial Guinea, should visit the country first. One should also underline the great efforts of President Obiang Nguema and his Government within the past two decades, to make this country one of the three leading countries in Africa, in terms of economic and social development. President Obiang Nguema is one of the few African Presidents not having a personal bank account outside his country. We have to recognize and land our support to these efforts and urge other African leaders to follow this example”.
Another reputable US Senator (Member of the US Committee on Foreign Relations), who we have contacted by phone, stated the followings: “United States should not be embarrassed in having the quasi monopoly of oil’s sector development inEquatorial Guinea. The same is true for France in Gabon, Republic of Congo, Angola, and Chad where they cooperate with Dutch Shell. It is also true with Dutch Shell in Nigeria. France has always done what it takes to keep the political stability in Gabon, in order to protect its interests. Why should it be different for US in the case of Equatorial Guinea? Especially with a country where the democratic progress has reached the level comparable only to few African countries such as Senegal, South Africa,Kenya,Ghana.Equatorial Guineais one of the few countries investing the income from the exploration of its natural resources in the economic and social development, for the well being of its population. At the present development speed,Equatorial Guineawill become an emerging country by 2020, objective set by the Government at its 2008 National Economic Conference held in Bata, the economic Capital of the country. Such efforts should be recognized, encouraged, and supported; if not, our call for countries to embrace genuine democratic and human rights process would simply be considered as demagogy, the Senator concluded”.
A US State Lawmaker from Texas made the following comments: “There is no doubt that if Exxon-Mobil was to loseEquatorial Guineato political instability being triggered by some, countries such as France would rapidly step in to fill the gap.
Despite the highly applauded contribution of the US in bringing about the basis for stability and genuine democratic process in Libya, only France and UK have benefited economically in the necessary reconstruction of the country devastated by the event, in terms of contracts granted to their companies and other compensation as price for intervening. United States ha play the “Good Samaritan” role in fighting for democracy and Human Rights.
Unfortunately, the Libyan operation did not take into account the impact of such action and the subsequent movements of the Touaregs Tribe across the Sahara desert, on countries such as Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Algeria. The instability engendered by that intervention will definitely extend to other African countries south of the Sahara.
The present campaign by French Political Authorities against Equatorial Guineais totally unfounded and would not have existed if “Total” had the dominant share in the oil and gas sector in Equatorial Guinea.Francehas never and would not act so regrettably against one of its former colonies (except in the case of Guineain the 1960s, when that country decided, under President Sekou Toure, not to follow the French colonial ruling). It should be recalled that Exxon-Mobil decided to take the risk of searching for oil in Equatorial Guinea, only after “Total” and “Spain” had concluded that Equatorial Guineawas not worth the search, and no time or resources should be wasted for that country.
What strike people is the fact that Equatorial Guinea presently holds more than 46% of the total monetary reserves of Central African Countries common Central Bank (BEAC) and the monetary reserves of the BEAC is deposited in the French Treasury, and not in the French Central Bank. What is amazing is that the monetary reserves is expressed in CFA Franc and not in Euros, which in case of devaluation of the CFA Franc would always be devastating to the countries members of the BEAC. The French authority’s attitude raises a lot of concerns. Nevertheless, Equatorial Guinea has maintained a peaceful and diplomatic approach despite the escalation of the provocations by the Prosecutors inParis.
Any instability in Equatorial Guinea would destabilize the whole central Africa sub-region including DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. Who will benefit from such deplorable intentions?” the State Lawmaker asked.
A renowned British Businessman with whom we have discussed the world political and economic turmoil had the following views: “The world has clearly become multi-polar and there no longer is a dominant power, whether economic or political. Even the U.S.has to take into account its own national interests in intervening in world affairs. Gone are the days when theU.S.would act as a ‘Good Samaritan’. There is not a zero sum game in world politics. Although the basic democratic principles are universal, there is no single democratic model and democracy must be genuine and cannot be imported. Any U.K. involvement in world affairs should take into account the interest of the U.K. and of the people involved. It is unfortunate that the second aspect was not considered in our involvement in Libya; the consequences on the stability of the region were not taken into account” he concluded.
A growing number of views around the world are expressing the same sentiment. Niger, Mauritania, Algeria and Chadwill not be spared of the consequences of what happened in Libya. The speedy search for security cooperation between Niger and Chad is a clear indication that the fear of instability in those countries as a result of the Libyan operation is real.
Even in the U.S., many politicians, scholars and businessmen are becoming aware of the crucial need to take the interests of the U.S. into account whenever the U.S. involves itself in world affairs. These interests are political, economic and social.
By EquatorialGuineaonline.com Correspondent in New York: USA.